Inspector finds Solyndra may have misled Energy Department regulators on loan

Federal regulators believe Solyndra, the former Fremont-based solar panel manufacturing company, may have misled Energy Department officials while winning $535 million in government-backed loans.

In a report released this week, Energy Department inspector general Gregory H. Friedman scrutinized the 2009 deal with Solyndra, and probed the solar panel manufacturer’s sales contracts, business model and product market.

“In our view, the investigative record suggests that the actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the Department,” Friedman wrote.

The inspector also laid blame on department staff: “The Department’s due diligence efforts were less than fully effective. At various points during the loan guarantee process, Solyndra officials provided certain information to the Department that, had it been considered more closely, would have cast doubt on the accuracy of certain of Solyndra’s prior representations.”

Still, Friedman wrote, most of the blame rests with Solyndra. Investigators found that company officials misled federal loan officers about the size of contracts. Solyndra stated it had $1.4 billion in future sales commitments, although company officials knew that the sales numbers were overstated, the report says.

The White House touted Solyndra as a prime example of green energy and ingenuity. The solar panel manufacturer received the federal loan guarantee in September 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2011. More than 1,100 lost their jobs.

The four-year investigation was conducted by the inspector general, federal prosecutors and the FBI. The Department of Justice announced this year it would not pursue criminal charges.


Photo: An auction sign is shown at Solyndra headquarters in Fremont on Oct. 31, 2011. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)


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  • Martin Cohen

    Gee. A corporation swindled the government. What a surprise.